Movies about private schools, boarding and prep schools have always been a topic that has triggered the audience’s attention, eager to know what happens there, how students behave and whether there is anything more than a strict and straightforward educational system. Many directors have tried to give their views on those interesting places and have often made them places where there is so much more than what we might expect. This is the list of the 10 best movies about private schools.
There is something intriguing and special about Wes Anderson’s movie. He can make the most common topic into something unusual and specific, just like this excellent comedy-drama about a teenager who arrives at the private school Rushmore Academy where he becomes king of extracurricular activities, despite his failure in all other subjects.
He soon discovers he is on academic probation and falls in love with Miss Cross, a pretty elementary school teacher and his life starts to change. He suddenly finds himself in a love triangle and needs to think of ways to stay at school, which is a trigger for many funny moments in this original movie.
Cruel Intentions (1999)
Elite Manhattan prep school, two bored siblings and one goodhearted, young and naive rich girl. A drama that everyone loved to talk about, due to its disturbing premise, seductive tone, excellent actors and an unforgettable soundtrack.
Kathryn and Sebastian are manipulative step-siblings, bored and always getting what they want. Their new project is Annette, the daughter of the headmaster of their school. Kathryn makes a bet with Sebastian to seduce her and sleep with her, changing her decision of waiting until she gets married. At first, everything seems to go perfectly well, until Sebastian starts to develop feelings for this sweet girl.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
One of the most famous and beloved movies about students in a private school is this beautiful drama where we meet Professor Keating, an extravagant English teacher, in love with his work and eager to share his passion with his students.
Todd Anderson is a shy boy sent to a private school where he befriends his roommate, popular and friendly Neil Perry. Todd, Neil and their other friends meet Keating who tells them about the Dead Poets Society and encourages them to join it. Each of them will have their own experience there and will be changed for life.
School Ties (1992)
It is the 1950s and David Greene, an excellent footballer is sent to a prestigious school to help its football team against their old rivals. But David is not from this world, coming from a working-class background and being a Jew.
David is outgoing, friendly and makes friends easily, but has to hide this side of his out of fear of being rejected. This movie gives us a great look into the differences between students in prep schools and the ways they have to adapt to the environment, especially if coming from different backgrounds.
Wild Child (2008)
Poppy Moore is a spoiled brat who’s recently lost her mother and her usually absent father Gerry can’t deal with her and her constant mood swings and behaviour. He sends her to her mother’s former elite England boarding school for girls, Abbey Mount, hoping she will change her attitude.
Since Poppy is very self-centred, wild and not very friendly, she makes enemies with most colleagues on her very first day and doesn’t want to follow the school’s strict regime. She decides to misbehave and take the blame for everyone until they send her away.
The Emperor’s Club (2002)
One of the most beloved movies on this topic is this beautiful drama about an inspired and idealistic Classics professor in a prep school who decides to change and redeem a wild and rebellious student. William Hundert is passionate and principled and used to having a quiet classroom full of hardworking students.
His world and views are shaken when Sedgewick Bell, a new student enters his classroom and starts questioning his methods and principles. It all begins with a verbal battle between two strong characters but ends in a close student-teacher relationship with many future consequences.
A Little Princess (1995)
One of the classics here is this heartwarming fantasy drama about a little girl who is sent to a boarding school when her father goes missing and is presumed dead after enlisting to fight in World War II. Sara Crewe is sent to New York to attend the same boarding school as her late mother.
Sara is extremely creative and open-minded with a spirit that can’t easily be shattered and she immediately finds herself in a conflict with the strict headmistress, Miss Minchin, who doesn’t like Sara’s way of thinking and attempts to change her way of behaving.
Mona Lisa Smile (2003)
Julia Roberts is Katherine Ann Watson, a creative and open-minded teacher who accepts the position of art history teacher at the prestigious Wellesley College where she meets bright and clever students. She is very modern, with a bit extravagant views of the 1950s society and is aware her students are not reaching their full potential.
She forms a strong relationship with a group of intelligent and bright young women and attempts to widen their horizons, but her progressive views are not the ones the college has in mind when teaching its students.
Handsome Devil (2016)
Two students and roommates at an all-boys boarding school form an unusual bond, especially when we take their backgrounds and popularity into consideration. One is a social outcast and the other is a popular rugby star.
When a new English teacher starts to challenge the students to express themselves freely and find their own truth, their relationship grows even stronger but is also tested, especially after one of them confesses to being gay.
Finding Forrester (2000)
This extraordinary drama brings the story of Jamale Wallace, a young and gifted basketball player who gets extremely high scores on a national standardized exam and is accepted to a prestigious private school in Manhattan.
Before being accepted, Jamal preferred and enjoyed playing basketball and spending his days on the court with his friends. Due to unexpected circumstances, he befriends a writer named William Forrester who he continues seeing when he starts his new education. Alienated from his old friends, Jamal spends even more time with Forrester who slowly starts introducing him to the world of writing.